Introducing Lara Ritchie
Lara Ritchie joined ELCAP as our new Business Manager towards the end of last month.
We caught up with Lara to learn about her experience to date and her plans for the future. We also got to hear about her affection for a 1980s action movie and an unusual encounter with a family pet.
Lara returns to ELCAP after developing her career in a range of settings over the last decade. Welcome back!
Can you tell us a bit about your work before you joined ELCAP?
Prior to joining ELCAP again, I have had the pleasure of working in a variety of roles within the social care sector.
Within my care management roles, I have managed and led services in the community, supporting elderly individuals with visiting support shaped around their needs. The focus was on assisting them to live in their own homes for as long as they were able.
My most recent role was with a local care home as the Business Support Manager. This diverse and varied role required me to support the development of a brand new care home, developing systems, processes and internal structures to ensure the residents and staff were supported to the highest standard.
Much of your career to date has been in social care. What motivates you to work in our sector?
I began my career in the social care sector as a volunteer and thoroughly enjoyed supporting individuals to pursue their own goals, overcome barriers and set personal targets.
I developed my career in a variety of roles and really enjoyed taking a creative approach to care provision, overcoming challenges and striving to make a real difference to people in ways that meant the most to them. This focus has been present in all my direct care roles and management positions.
The social care sector has so much potential. The people who support its foundations and the positive impact of the work they do motivates me to ensure that the quality of care is always a priority.
What’s your proudest achievement in your career to date? And what made it special for you?
I am proud to have been part of several teams in various organisations, who have provided excellent care to individuals who depend on the involvement of others to lead meaningful lives.
I have worked hard to develop my experience, knowledge and skills, as well as achieve qualifications which underpin my practice.
You’ve re-joined ELCAP as our new Business Manager. Can you tell us a bit about your role and what it involves?
I am still finding my feet in my new role as it has so many elements to it, which is exciting. My predecessor, Kelly Cunningham, has left me detailed handover notes, which is amazing. And the team has been fantastic in welcoming me back!
I am responsible for supporting and managing the Admin and Finance team in their key roles within the charity. In addition, I’m here to help ensure that ELCAP maintains the high standards and recognition it has achieved over the years. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to further develop our quality frameworks and to making sure we achieve the outputs and outcomes we identify.
As the Business Manager, I want to increase ELCAP’s reach to allow us to provide more support to more individuals. I want us to provide meaningful jobs for more people in our community. And I want to ensure ELCAP is as efficient, effective and sustainable as possible.
There is so much potential to build on the achievements that ELCAP should be proud of.
You’ve been in post for a few weeks now. What are your early impressions of ELCAP in 2021?
I have really enjoyed seeing familiar faces again and hearing of their journeys since we last worked together. It has also been great getting to know new faces and hearing of the progress that ELCAP has made since I was last part of the team.
My early impression is that the teams within ELCAP have worked tirelessly prior to and during the COVID pandemic and have continued to achieve amazing things for the individuals they support, in the face of so many challenges. I recognise that it has been far from easy. Their success at individuals and team levels is testament to the commitment they have to the individuals they support and their colleagues. Recognising and celebrating this commitment should always be a priority.
The staff seminars that took place recently allowed a platform for reflection and planning, with great insights into what has gone well and where we can improve.
ELCAP’s mission is to become the recognised gold standard in social care. What does a gold standard organisation look like?
For me, a gold standard organisation is authentic and consistent, with a clear pathway to achieving its vision. An organisation which is gold standard values the individuals it supports, respects the ways they wish to live their lives and shapes their support to help them realise their aspirations.
This approach goes hand in hand with celebrating the staff who are committed to making change happen for the individuals they support. A gold standard organisation recognises staff knowledge and skills and provides them with a platform to embrace their personal development and learn.
There is huge value in creating an inclusive plan and working together to make it happen!
If a friend was to describe you in three words, what would they say?
Well, that’s tricky! So I asked my friends the question. They said I’m positive, friendly and authentic.
What’s your favourite film? And why do you like it?
I have so many favourites, but if I had to pick one I would have to say Top Gun.
It is one of the few films I can watch over and over again and still find myself inspired, laughing, crying – and a whole host of other emotions. I always like a happy ending. And I love the fact that there is a strong female in a lead role too!
Can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
My husband and I had a pet Chinchilla for many years, even before we had kids. When our Chin (Velvet) was just young, he suffered several seizures and I needed to perform emergency CPR! It was so random, but successful, and he lived with us for 12 years.
We still laugh at how crazy it was, but I am proud I saved his life – twice! We built a garden bar in lockdown and it is fondly known as Velvet’s Bar.
Last but not least, what are your priorities over the coming months?
My first priority has been to understand all the existing points of focus for ELCAP, so I can undertake the work that will drive things forward. There is lots of positive work to do, which is exciting.
Recruitment is a key focus for me and our leadership team. Recruitment is a challenge for the care sector as a whole, so creative thinking and exploring various pathways will be important.
I aim to develop my knowledge of our quality frameworks and support the plans which are in place to build on the success of our charity. Communication will be key, especially when we need the collective input of everyone who makes ELCAP what it is.
I’d like us to consider the ambitions of the individuals we support and of our committed staff across East Lothian and Midlothian. We want to help everyone reach their full potential, celebrate people’s achievements and look to the future to consider what we can do next. It will be an exciting and inclusive journey for us all.
I am really excited to be part of the ELCAP team again.